Lecturer to shed light on those affected by ADHD at Cranberry Public Library

| Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Sam Jones is a sophomore majoring in music at Temple University, and Ed King is a pediatrician in Pittsburgh at Pediatric Alliance.

Jones, 20, and King, 45, said they have lived with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, all their lives, and their lives could be different without the help of Susan Lieber, a professional organizer.

Lieber, who has a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas and a master's in health care supervision and management from the University of Pittsburgh, works exclusively with people who have ADHD through her 10-year old business, Leave It To Lieber.

Lieber's lecture at the Cranberry Public Library at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 6 will focus on so-called executive function skills, the cognitive skills responsible for work efficiency, regulation of impulses and behavior.

Lieber said the lecture will help people with ADHD and their loved ones understand why they struggle with different tasks. Hyperactivity, impulsivity and distractibility are all typical symptoms.

“ADHD affects how people approach things, because their brain processes things differently,” Lieber said.

Jones said his brain operates in way that a typical person can't fully understand.

Sometimes when a teacher says something, his mind will go off on a tangent, connecting what his teacher said to something that happened the day before, which then connects to something else and so on.

“When I'm in class, I make connections in my head very rapidly and in many different directions, like my mind is moving forward like a train that won't stop,” Jones said.

The distractions sometimes cause him to be disorganized, and Lieber has helped him control that.

“If a big project is due, write down ‘Big Project' on a piece of paper, bullet all the steps you need to do and schedule that across a period of time,” Jones said. “Visually, organizing content by different color tabs, folders, notebooks, that sort of thing, that's really where I fell short.”

Jones said he went from being a “B” and “C” student in high school to having mostly A's in college.

King couldn't take notes or study for long periods of time and regularly forgot where he put things that he just had in his hand.

“I couldn't take notes well in med school, so I had to make my own study groups where we did comics to study for microbiology,” King said.

Lieber helped King set-up external cues, like having a large bedside bowl in which to empty his pockets so he doesn't spend time every day looking for his car keys or wallet.

Although ADHD may present challenges to Jones and King, they embrace the advantages it gives them.

“ADHD actually really helps me with music, because I can pay attention to quite a few things at the same time,” Jones said.

“Instead of going through routines, we're stuck with never having a routine thought,” King said. “Whatever I'm doing, I'm always coming up with creative ideas. It just doesn't stop.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.

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